The Rosewood Orchard entrance (Photos by Dylan Knichel)


The Rosewood Orchard has been getting a makeover with the help of students in USC’s environment sustainability projects class.

University of South Carolina professor Thomas Syfert has been working in the neighborhood for the past five years.

Projects have included rain catchers, handicap-accessible planters and irrigation systems powered by solar panel..

“It is about the environment, yes,” Syfert said. “At the same time we want to better students at the community service and project management aspect.”

This semester’s installation is one of the biggest to date: the completion of a 90-foot, handicap-accessible boardwalk that runs through the orchard.

Will Rothemich is one of the students working on the project that other students started in the fall with a 180-foot boardwalk.

Planning and budgeting for the new section began in January with the start of the semester.

For a couple hours each week since, groups of three to four have been clearing ground and sawing and installing recycled wooden planks.

“The boardwalk itself allows for the use of wheelchairs and easier transportation,” Rothemich said. “With ramps on each end, it enables easier access to the apple trees for handicapped people. The orchard being a public place, the boardwalk makes it much more enjoyable for people with a disability to appreciate nature.”

But out of all places, why the orchard?

“We originally chose the Rosewood Orchard because it’s a public, nonprofit garden that allows people to gather and enjoy the fruits of nature,” he said. “The orchard was initially picked to give guests and volunteers easier access. All the projects are fit to be environmentally friendly and sustainable while giving back to the community.”

Residents of the surrounding Rosewood neighborhood are thankful for students’ work.

“I love what they’re doing,” said neighborhood resident Daniel Koontz. “It is almost unrecognizable compared to what it was a few years ago. Not many neighborhoods have what we have.”

Syfert said that other projects in the works include anything from various solar installations to the placement of concrete stepping stones that would allow for water to run through them.

The class plans to lay the final planks and finalize construction by the end of April.

Rothemich said he has learned a lot about eco-friendly project management and wants to keep it up.

“Who knows what the future holds?” Rothemich said. “But if there are community projects at any location, I will do what I can to help.”

Will Rothemich cuts up one of the wooden planks to be placed into the boardwalk.

The progress made on the boardwalk so far.

Handicap accessible planters sit on a brick patio at the Orchard.